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To the People of the United States


Published 1944


Public education film on combatting the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, especially syphilis, in World War II.


Run time 20:51
Producer California Department of Public Health in cooperation with U.S. Public Health Service
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

Expository and semi-dramatic film starring Jean Hersholt, dealing with the venereal disease problem facing the nation. Contains direct appeal for individual blood tests and urges public discussion of the problem.


sexually transmitted diseases venereal disease syphilis gonorrhea STDs World War II (Homefront)
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Reviews

Reviewer: Robert36 - - September 6, 2012
Subject: Religion, even then!
Director Walter Wanger made this at the request of the USPHS. The named actors all donated their time to the film. My father, Leroy E. Burney MD (later a US Surgeon General) was sent as technical advisor. The Catholic Legion of Decency objected to the movie, saying that "chastity was a greater scourge than venereal disease and the film failed to emphasize the evils of promiscuity." The US Surgeon General, Dr. Thomas Parran, himself a Catholic, withdrew approval from the USPHS, and the film was shown to only a limited audience.
Reviewer: Jilly9 - - January 22, 2012
Subject: 1944 Academy Award
Nominated for an Oscar for "Best Documentary Short" in 1944.
Reviewer: donwert - - February 2, 2011
Subject: Look To Demark!
In addition to the observations below, I thought it interesting that the film expressly compares the enlightened attitude of Scandinavians to the backward, prudish view of Americans regarding sexually transmitted deseases. True then; true now. We never learn---and have religion to thank for it.

One of the many character actors in this film is the fellow who plays Harry Bailey's father in "It's a Wonderful Life". He plays a member of a draft board!
Reviewer: cerpntaxt - - August 19, 2007
Subject: Wait what?
How does one get syphilis?
Reviewer: ERD. - - June 1, 2007
Subject: Effective for 1944
Jean Hersholt,the great humanitarian and character actor hosts this 1944 public information film about stopping venereal diseases. Bit parts are played by Robert Mitchum and Noah Beery, as well as many other recognizable actors of the that time. For the audience of that era, it effectively got the message across. A slick production. Directed by Arthur Lubin, and produced by Walter Wanger
Reviewer: Spiceman1957 - - May 31, 2007
Subject: Re: Syphilis
After viewing this film, I can certainly say we have come a long way. However much of what was discussed can be applied today with getting tested and using some common sense. I agree, there is nothing wrong in discussing syphils or any other STD including HIV/AIDS. We now can treat syphilis with penicillin instead of arsenic. I work as a public health nurse and we are trying very hard to stamp out syphilis or at the least contain it to some degree. We test everyone who come into our clinic. I have seen a decrease in the early and secondary stages of syphilis since 1994 but it is still out there!!
Reviewer: Spuzz - - April 17, 2005
Subject: Yes! / No! We're not/ are ashamed of this disease!
So so telling about how to avoid catching VD. Except it doesnt REALLY say how to avoid it, it just goes on and on about the social and economic consequences of it. The two=deer-caught-in-headlights generals at the beginning are quite funny though, and seeing Robert Mitchum was a pip. But the Danish (!) narrator was quite bizarre and this was really strangely shot and told. There are sometimes seconds of dead air or scenes that end awkwardly.
One final thing, if something like Syphyllis is something we shouldnt be ashamed of, then why was the soldier who got syphillis seen entirely in back shots?
Oh, one final final thing. Love the guy's home movies whose idea of a good time is to go to a hospital and shoot footage of a couple getting tested for disease..
Reviewer: jsa78 - - July 1, 2004
Subject: Not the "Three Cadets"
Like the other reviews, this isn't your campy "Did you hear about Lt. Jones? He caught the Clap from some Dame while he was on his 3 day pass!" classic VD film. Even the military guys didn't even imply that their friend's illness was contacted from sexual contact. What must have really been bad was this was right at the time Dr. Flemming discovered Penicillan, so the Airman had to go through the pre-antibiotic treatment for Syphilis of Arsenic (Yes, Arsenic) and Bismuth injections. It does give a good arguement for getting tested, however. But if you want a campy VD film, go buy Three Cadets.
Reviewer: SteveGus - - March 7, 2004
Subject: Not one of the films you're looking for
Yes, the first five minutes of this film are the best; they feature a bomber crew that seems a little too gung-ho to be sent to a combat zone, and Robert Mitchum is easily recognised.

This, unfortunately, is not one of the military "scare" films about VD, and the atmosphere is far too level-headed. Mildly interesting and unusual narrative techniques are used to personalize and lend authority to the dull statistical presentation; the use of three besuited members of a draft board as a sort of a Greek chorus to tell that part of the story was rather odd. The doctor narrator, moreover, has a suspicious German accent.

The admission that VD rates spike in wartime surprised me somewhat; of course, everybody, knew, but for the Government to say so was perhaps a breakthrough at the time.
Reviewer: Rod Beaumont - - November 30, 2002
Subject: Nex Time, Use Protection!
Dry and only mildly entertaining film encouraging people to get blood tested for syphilis. It tells in 20 minutes what could have been covered in 10. Not much camp value, either.

The most interesting scene takes place early on, featuring cameos by Robert Mitchum and Noah Beery (Rockford's dad on THE ROCKFORD FILES).
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